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Yemen, officially known as the Republic of Yemen, is an Arab country in Western Asia at the southern end of the Arabian Peninsula. It is the second biggest country in the peninsula but one of the Arab world's poorest.

It has been devastated since 2015 by a full-scale military campaign led by a Saudi-led coalition of Arab states in support of the internationally-recognised government of President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi and agains forces allied to the Houthi rebel movement.

Civilians have borne the greatest impact of the ongoing war, which has displaced millions and killed thousands of people, including children.

The military coalition now includes Qatar, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Sudan and Senegal. Several countries have sent ground troops to fight in Yemen, while others have only carried out air strikes.

Increased airstrikes in 2017

According to a Reuters report:

Yemen suffered more airstrikes in the first half of this year than in the whole of 2016, increasing the number of civilian deaths and forcing more people to flee their homes, according to a report by international aid agencies.
The pace of clashes on the ground has also intensified this year, especially around Yemen’s third largest city, Taiz, which is besieged by the Iran-aligned Houthis, said the report.
The number of airstrikes in the first six months of 2017 totaled 5,676, according to the report by the Protection Cluster in Yemen, which is led by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), up from 3,936 for all 2016. [1]

Refusal by the UK to suspend Saudi arms export licences

The UK approved more than £3.3bn in military sales to the Saudi kingdom between April 2015 and September 2016, according to Campaign Against the Arms Trade, which asked took the government to the High Court in 2017.

This included £2.2bn worth of licences for aircraft, helicopters and drones, and £1.1bn for grenades, bombs and missiles.

A leaked parliamentary committee report in 2016 concluded that British weapons most likely had been used to violate international law by the Saudi-led coalition.

The British government has confirmed that Typhoon and Tornado aircraft, manufactured by BAE Systems, have been used in combat missions in Yemen. Yet it has it refused to suspend export licences for the sale or transfer of arms and military equipment to Saudi Arabia for use in the conflict in Yemen.

In December 2016 Defence Secretary Michael Fallon also revealed that a "limited number" of BL-755 cluster bombs exported from the UK in the 1980s had been dropped in air strikes by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.



  1. Reuters, Pace of airstrikes, clashes in Yemen sharply higher in 2017: report, 16 August 2017, accessed 26 August 2017